In this together - Editorial

In this together

Constitution of Nepal 2072
Constitution of Nepal 2072

01 JULY 2015 – Kathmandu – Nepalese are eager to have their constitution be announced and implemented as soon as possible and drafts are in discussion now in the constituent assembly, but there are many different voices are heard and many of the agendas which supposed to be addressed are not in the draft as saying by various groups of community.

  • Marginalized groups should stand together to safeguard inclusion provision in constitution

  • Citizenship on basis of Motherhood should be written.
  • Double citizenship provision may increase the population of Nepal by double.
  • Another insurgency may be triggering as many of the oppositions are demanding, Hindu state, separate Madesh, ethnic states and so on.

Nepali women are well aware that they very much live in a man’s world. Right from the childhood, the family drills this fact into the heads of little girls. In case she is spared this truth early on, she learns it through her own experiences in school, college and in the work place. Then there is marriage, through which a woman’s identity is subsumed by the identity of her husband. It doesn’t end there. Once married, her loyalties to the new family are constantly under scrutiny.

Now, as if seeking to ensure that the new constitution reflects the true nature of Nepali society, a group of senior leaders all of them men look set to heavily curtail the gains in women’s rights post 2006 Jana Andolan.

To begin with, the much-debated ‘and’ conjunction in relation to the provision that demands both the ‘father and mother’ be Nepali citizens for their children to gain a Nepali citizenship, as of last night, looks to stay.

Regrettably, the citizenship clause of the draft constitution is only the tip of the iceberg. Problems begin right from the preamble. The first Constituent Assembly (CA) had mentioned that the constitution aimed to do away with all forms of injustices created by “a feudal, autocratic, centralized, unitary and patriarchal state mechanism”.

The term ‘patriarchal’ has now been removed from the preamble. Likewise, the provision that ensured 33 percent participation of women in Parliament is gone; Nepal’s Parliament after the 2008 elections was among the world’s most inclusive centrally elected bodies.

Contrast that with the new draft constitution, in which the right to equal payment for equal work along with equal rights to inheritance of parental property have both been removed. Unexpectedly, unlike the draft finalized by the first CA, the new one does not recognize the household work done by women, either.

If these provisions are not amended, it will be a disturbing development, particularly because the 2006 Jana Andolan and the 2007 Madhes Movement were supposed to have established for good the agendas of inclusion and equality in the national discourse. All these gains seem to be in jeopardy now.

So it is imperative that women in the CA and outside it form an alliance beyond the confines of their parties to ensure their rights in the statute. The same applies to women in civil society. In doing so, they need to acknowledge the varied problems women from various castes, ethnicity and classes face within the movement. They also need to form a larger alliance with other marginalized groups: the Dalits, Janajatis, Madhesis and sexual minorities.

Until now, each marginalized group seems to be pushing its agenda almost in isolation. This has made it easy for party leaders to play them off against one another. Unity among these groups would not only make the fight for inclusion easier but also result in a strong constituency even a larger civil rights movement that will be hard to ignore.

Editor’s Note: This was the Editiorial of Kantipur Daily Published on 01 July 2015.